Over 100 Common sayings taken from the Bible

Following is over 100 Common Sayings in the world, I believe have been adapted from the Bible. I want to qualify, not many are exact, and many are not really quoted as meant in Scripture (thanks Galen for the refinement).

I am sure there are many, many more. Make it fun for yourself and add to the list as you find them. Or comment here and I’ll add to the list. So far, I have come up with about 115.

These are some I’ve come up with myself, and others I’ve gathered from other sources. I thought this might be a fun Bible study (or trivia game) for some.

Common Sayings used in the world possibly found in His Word

A man after my own heart – people say this all the time, referring to someone they admire. But we recognize it from 1 Samuel 13:15, where God is referring to David. I’d like to be more like that.

The Prodigal son – (Luke 15:11,32), even the world understands a child who has gone astray, but they don’t see we like sheep have all gone astray. (Isaiah 53:6)

Flesh and blood – we use it to refer to relatives. (Matthew 16:17; Galatians 1:16; Ephesians 6:12), but the Bible basically uses it to refer to any other people, or our body.

A fly in the ointment (Ecclesiastes 10:1). In the world, this is any problem that throws a wrench in someone’s plan. Solomon speaks of the stench of a fly in a perfumer’s oil contrasting it to a little foolishness being an issue for one known as being wise or honored.

The root of the matter – (Job 19:28). After being browbeaten by his friends (10 times) and his wife, and even mocked by the children on the street, Job asks why they persecute him and blame him for the ‘root of the matter’ being found in him.

Fall by the wayside – (Matthew 13:4; Mark 4:4; Luke 8:4-18). A saying often used by the world, but spoken in the Parable of the Sower. The seed was sown, but they did not understand it (also said to be devoured by birds).

This too shall pass – This is not exactly in the Bible. But in His Word, it uses the phrase, ‘it shall come to pass’ (in Deuteronomy 28:1,15), which were blessings for obedience. Also consider 2 Corinthians 4:17-18; and 1 Corinthians 10:13 — others that have similar meanings to this saying.

That is my cross to bear – (Matthew 16:24). Obviously used in a secular way that the Word itself doesn’t express.

Give up the ghost – (Luke 23:46; John 19:30)

The Blind leading the blind – (Matthew 15:14; Luke 6:39) – I was at the end of Bible study one night at church, when an employee of a Mexican restaurant I frequented texted me on my phone. I knew a woman there, who we saw frequently and visited with. After knowing her awhile, she did some notary work for me occasionally. The employee said her husband had called and Nancy was in ICU on a ventilator. He asked me to come down to the hospital now.

I headed to the hospital right away, it was already late at night, and I wasn’t sure how late they allowed visitors especially in ICU. But he came out to let me in, then he stopped me at her door and said before he let me in, he wanted me to answer a question. He explained a Priest and the Hospital Chaplain had come by and neither could answer his question (a beginning of a joke fluttered in my mind. A Priest, a Chaplain and Holly).

He would not let them in because they did not know the answer. I was thinking to myself, “You are the one that asked me to come down, and now you are going to bar me from coming in?” But I prayed and said, “O.k., I’ll try.” The question was, ‘where do the blind lead the blind?’  I answered and he was happy and left the room to make phone calls. I was able to give the gospel to Nancy who was awake, and although she could not talk, she squeezed my hand when I asked her if she believed. I saw her the next day and went over the gospel again. The next day she went to be with the Lord. I spoke at her funeral and gave the gospel (the only one) and got confirmation from others attending who had been praying for her and had been sharing with her, so there were many laborers in the harvest.

Crystal Clear – (Revelation 21:11; 22:1), or clear as crystal

If you’re without sin, cast the first stone – (John 8:7). This interestingly seems to be used by Christians when you are warning about the false doctrine of some teacher.

Twinkling or Blink of an Eye – (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Even science fiction writers like Brian Aldiss used this term as the title of one of His books.

Sign of the times – (Matthew 16:3). The irony here is although the world uses this term, they often don’t see the sign of the times.

Ripe old age – (or a good old age) – Genesis 35:29, 15:15

Wolves in sheep’s clothing – (Matthew 7:15-25). This is spoken of false prophets, who will not enter the narrow way/gate (Jesus who is the Door/Gate of the sheep), but instead try to climb up another way. They justify themselves by their many wonderful works done in His name.

The truth will set you free – (John 8:31-32). Many take this to speak of our initial freedom in becoming His, but this is about believers learning to continue in His Word so that His truth will set us free and make us into disciples.

Jezebel – the immoral and seducing wife of King Ahab – (1 Kings 16), There are some who identify as Christians who like to call women by this name frequently. I know, it’s been used on me several times.

See eye to eye – (Isaiah 52:8).

House of Prayer – (Isaiah 56:7; Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46). People often refer to any church building as a ‘house of prayer’. But Jesus when He cleansed the Temple said they had made it a den of thieves. This is true of many church buildings unfortunately.

Played the fool – (1 Samuel 26:21). This was Saul admitting to David he had played the fool. Even a secular song sings, ‘everybody plays the fools sometimes, no exception to the rule’.

Doubting Thomas – (John 20:26-29), We know this comes from the disciple Thomas who wanted to see Jesus’s wounds before he said he would believe He was resurrected.

Oh ye of little faith – (Matthew 6:30, 8:26; 16:8; Luke 12:28). Remember believer…this was said to His disciples in many instances. Don’t grow discouraged when your faith seems frail. Tell Him, I believe Lord, help my unbelief. And get into His Word to strengthen your faith in the Lord and all He has done. He loves you.

The world (and religious people) often speak of ‘their faith’ instead of faith in Jesus Christ, the only faith that saves.

Move mountains – (Matthew 17:20, 21:21; Mark 11:23; 1 Corinthians 3:2). The Bible references aren’t just about moving mountains but about how a little bit of faith in Him can do a lot.

It’s better to give than receive – (Acts 20:35; Matthew 10:8). It is more blessed to give than receive.

Washing your hands of the matter – (Matthew 27:20-28; Deuteronomy 21:6-8).

This is what Pilate as a good politician said to keep everyone happy, (except his wife who had warned him — and God Himself).

Remember this. We are all Barabbas. Jesus died in our stead, and we were set free, not because of anything we have done.

He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword – (Matthew 26:52; Revelation 13:10)

Spare the rod and spoil the child (Proverbs 13:24). This is how people will generally say it. But the Bible says, the one who spares the rod, hates his son. 

Pride goes before a fall – (Proverbs 16:18; and a couple others on pride -Proverbs 11:2, 18:12, Jeremiah 49:16,Obadiah 1:3-4). This is another one that people often misquote from the Bible. I remember on Little House on the Prairie, Caroline Ingalls correcting Mrs. Oleson who had just chastened her with the misquote. The Scripture reads, “Pride goes before destruction and an haughty spirit before a fall.” 

Peace like a river – (Isaiah 66:12). Used in a Christian song we all recognize, but Isaiah spoke of what will happen to Israel at the end of the Tribulation.

A good Samaritan – (Luke 10:30-37). We all know this precious story of sacrificial love of neighbor.

Marsha, Marsha – (from Brady Bunch) – This is just a funny, so don’t any of you start chastising me. 🙂 It reminds me of this from Lk 10:41-42, where Jesus says, “Martha, Martha…”

A labor of Love – (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

The Lord will provide – (Genesis 22:12-14). Or also descriptive as one of His names, Jehovah Jireh.

Do things decently and in order – (1 Corinthians 14:40).

The eleventh hour – (late wages — Matthew 20:1-16, but specifically 6 for the saying). It’s never too late to believe in Jesus and everyone receives eternal life no matter if even as late as the thief on the cross.

No rest for the wicked – (Isaiah 57:20-21).

Money is the root of all evil – the Bible really says the love of money is the root of all evil, but when repeated, this is often how they say it – (1 Timothy 6:12).

Iron Teeth – (Daniel 7:7,19); Often used in quotes throughout history of the strength of a military opponent. We understand the fourth beast in the Prophecy of Daniel as the revived Roman empire and the one who rules it, the Antichrist.

Man on a Mission – May have been taken from Saul (1 Samuel 15) being sent to go destroy the Amalekites, but he didn’t obey God in his instructions. Twice he said, “I am on a mission”, but not God’s mission.

Cut to the heart – (Acts 2:36-41; Acts 5:29-33; Acts 7:48-60). See how the people have different responses to the truth penetrating (or cutting) in these accounts.

The Truth hurts – I think it’s possible it’s adapted from Proverbs 27:6 or Proverbs 20:30, the wounds of a friend being faithful.

No rest for the weary – (Lamentations 5:5)

Kiss of death – (Matthew 26:48-50) – we know the story of the betrayal of Judas with a kiss.

Armageddon – (or Megiddo in the OT, Revelation 16:16), oddly used often by the world who loves to make lots of distorted movies about their fate to come. We pray for some to escape. 

Broken Heart – (Psalm 34:18, 51:17; 51:17, 147:3, Isaiah 61:1). I think we also see a spiritual picture of this in the story of the Good Samaritan.

Run the Race – (Psalm 19:5; 1 Corinthians 9:24).

Fight the good fight (of faith) – (1 Timothy 6:12). We hear the world use this terminology with maybe illnesses they are fighting through or struggles. But it really is pointless without faith in Him.

Do you know Him?

What God joined together let no man tear asunder – (Matthew 19:6). Most getting married seem to understand that this is a Biblical mandate from His Word, although they don’t really acknowledge it. Secular marriages sometimes also use portions of the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13.

Speak now or forever hold your peace – (Job 13:13, 33:31; Acts 18:9). None have anything to do with objections at weddings, but “hold your peace” is from the Bible.

At my wit’s end – (Psalm 107:27). Any mother knows this saying.

Stand in Awe – (Psalm 4:4, 33:8; 119:161). There is much to be in awe about regarding God and His Word.

Fall from Grace – (Galatians 5:4; Hebrews 12:25; 2 Peter 3:17). Oftentimes, false teachers use this to teach someone can lose eternal life. Instead of finishing in the Spirit, believers end up walking in the lusts of the flesh. As soon as we try to walk by law, we are not partaking of the Grace of Jesus Christ. That is how we are taught how to live (Titus 2:11-12).

A little bird(ie) told me – (Ecclesiastes 10:20).

Out of the mouths of babes – (Psalms 8:2). 

You the Man! – (2 Samuel 12:1-15 — “thou art the man”). This isn’t about the worldly meaning such as a recognition of accomplishment, such a high five to another saying, “You da man!” 

But this is such a great story of God’s tender mercies and forgiveness, even in light of David’s great sin (and arrogance to not even recognize it). There are consequences on this earth for sin. This chapter is about the Prophet Nathan confronting David with a story of a rich man stealing a poor man’s ewe vs. using his own. (Dealing with his adultery with Bathsheba and basically murder of Uriah — very serious crimes and God said he had blasphemed Him among His enemies).

Wasting away – (Isaiah 10:18). This definitely did not come from the KJV which has the word as standardbearer (only used once, so I have no insight on it). The other literal translation has it as a sick man who wastes away. The Hebrew Bible translates it as a sick man pines away. Since it is a primitive root word, the only clarity comes from the Hebrew word itself that means ‘be sick’.

Cross the Great Divide – (Luke 16:26) Used by the world of someone who is going to die. In the Word, we see it used in the story of Lazarus and the rich man. He wanted Lazarus to come and dip some water into his mouth, but there was a ‘great divide’ or gulf fixed between them.

Be a Man – (1 Kings 2:2). This is David instructing his son Solomon how to be a man of God (walking in His ways). I want all my children to walk in His ways.

Beat the Bushes – (Luke 14:23). Go out into the highways and hedges.

You reap what you sow – (Galatians 6:7; 2 Corinthians 9:6) – true of believers and non-believers alike. It also refers to what we reap in giving to God’s work, based on how we sow (sparingly or bountifully). Think on the widow’s mite.

My Heart is overwhelmed – (Psalm 61:2). The good news is, we can be led to the Rock in these times. Cry out to Him.

Search high and Low – Parable of the Lost coin – (Luke 15:8-10).

A drop in the bucket – (Isaiah 40:15). This is how the nations are in the eyes of God, nothing more than a drop in the bucket.

Smooth as Butter – (Psalm 55:21). This chapter speaks to the speech of a treacherous friend who is really an enemy.

Nothing new under the Sun – (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Sometimes when we see certain wickedness, it’s hard to believe that it isn’t new.

The Letter of the Law – (2 Corinthians 3:6). Lawyers will use this to this day to discuss the real intent of a certain law

A house divided against itself cannot stand – (Matthew 12:24-30; Mark 3:22-26, Luke 11:14-19). This was spoken by Jesus when they accused Him of performing His miracles by the power of Satan. 

The powers that be – (Romans 13:1)

You are my Rock – (2 Samuel 22:2,47; Psalm 18:46; 28:1; 31:2-3; 42:5 and many other Scriptures). We might hear people say that about another person who has been supportive in hard times. But Christ is our Rock and was to Israel as well (1 Corinthians 10:4).

You’re putting words in my mouth – (2 Samuel 14:3)

Bite the dust/lick the dust (Ps 72:9)

Four corners of the earth – (Isaiah 11:12; Revelation 7:1). This is where the elect of Israel will be gathered the second time to their land (four winds of the earth).

Set or get your house in order (2 Kings 20:1), spoken to Hezekiah when he was sick and dying.

Same thing a doctor told my late husband when he diagnosed him; “you need to go home and get your affairs in order.” We prayed for more time like Hezekiah. The Lord gave us 7 more years.

There’s a time and a place (or season) for everything. But Ecclesiastes 3 is a little more in-depth on our times. And we know also more than one contemporary song was taken from this Scripture. Pete Seeger wrote Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season). The Byrds made it popular later. The Zombies wrote, ‘it’s the time of the season for loving’ (Ecc 3:8, although they likely weren’t attempting to pass along Scripture).

Baptism by fire – (Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16). In the Military, this is a saying used of a soldiers first time in battle. In the Pentecostal and some other religions like the Methodists, they see this as a second work of sanctification. Some see it as the day of Pentecost and their tongues/languages, being ‘as of fire’. But I believe we see the Baptism by the Spirit that all believers will experience (1 Cor 12:13). The baptism by fire, is answered in context in Matthew and Luke, and is the unbelievers(chaff) who will sadly experience in the unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Revelation 20:11-15).

Pearl of Great Price – (Matthew 13:46). Even false religions have adapted this and named books after it.

Be still – Many in the emergent/contemplative or mystical group have tried to teach this as some sort of emptying of the mind. But the verse itself teaches us to cease from our own thoughts and put them on Him. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
And of course we all remember Jesus rebuke to the wind and the waves; Peace, Be still. (Psalm 46:10; Nehemiah 8:11; Psalm 4:4, 83:1; Isaiah 23:2; Mark 4:39).

Be quiet – (Or ‘Hold your peace’ or ‘Be Silent’). Some places add; ‘put your hand over your mouth’). Makes you feel like you’re in grade school again. (Judges 18:19; 1 Samuel 15:16; Matt 20:31)

Hold your tongue – (Job 6:24, 13:19; Habakkuk 1:13; Amos 6:10). Essentially the same as Be quiet, just another way to say it.

Out of the mouth of a Lion – (Psalm 22:21; Daniel 6:22; 2 Timothy 4:17; Revelation 13:2). The Messianic Psalm says, “Save me from the mouth of the Lion.” This is foreshadowed in the story of Daniel and the Lion’s den. The enemy is liked to a roaring lion prowling about, and the Antichrist is also likened to having the mouth of a lion. We understand it to mean His deliverance from dire circumstances, created by the enemy of our souls. God will always save His one way or another. We will not be lost. We shall never perish.

Salt of the earth – (Matthew 5:13; Mark 9:50). Israel was to be salt and light to the world, but had lost their savor or saltiness.

Casting pearls before swine – (Matt 7:6). I remember an old joke whenever I hear this saying.

An older actress and a younger one, showed up at a casting call about the same time. The younger actress waved the older one in first saying, “Age before beauty.” The older actress swept in through the open door saying, “Thank you, pearls before swine.”

Cast your bread upon the waters – (Ecclesiastes 11:1), Maybe most haven’t heard the secular world use this, but I have heard some use the expression.

Sour Grapes (Ezekiel 18:2)

Teeth are set on Edge – (Jeremiah 31:29-30; Ezekiel 18:2).

Let there be light – (Genesis 1), people say this even turning on a light in a room.

Pride of Life – (1 John 2:16). The secular world doesn’t understand this is not a good thing, but the basis for sin.

Down to the river to pray – A gospel song mainly, with Biblical background – (Acts 16:13).

How (far) the mighty have fallen – (2 Samuel 1:25).

A still small voice – 1 Kings 19:12

I can see the writing on the wall – (Daniel 5:5-6). I don’t believe the world can see the handwriting on the wall. The Lord in His Word has given many warnings.

Weighed in the balance – (Job 31:6)

Or Weighed and found wanting – (Daniel 5:27)

Bring his head on a platter – Mark 6:25, of course the story of Herod and John the Baptist.

With friends like you, who needs enemies? – (Book of Job, see also Job 16:2).

Get thee behind me Satan – (Matthew 16:23).

Stumbling block – (Matthew 16:23; 1 Corinthians 1:23); and many others. Something believers should try not to be.

Like a dog to vomit – (Proverbs 26:11; 2 Peter 2:22). We’ve all seen dogs do it…

Fire and Brimstone – (Psalm 11:6; Genesis 19:24), the way we use to describe the manner one preaches generally, but something no one wants to see.

A leopard doesn’t change his spots – (Jeremiah 13:23)

Grab the Bull by the Horns – Although the horns on the altar were not bull horns, we may have taken this saying from 1 Kings 1:50-53 where Adonijah grabbed them to seek asylum from Solomon.

Cut from the same cloth, may be taken from ‘look the rock from which you were cut (hewn) – Isaiah 51:1

Throw it to the dogs – (Exodus 22:31)

Howl like a dog – (Psalm 59:6,14)

Dumb as a dog – (Isaiah 56:10).

Lazy Dog – (Isaiah 56:10)

By the sweat of your brow (face) Genesis 3:19.

Ashes to Ashes, dust to dust – (Genesis 3:19)

Apple of my eye – (Deuteronomy 32:10; Zechariah 2:8), parents often use it to describe their children, and this is how God describes Israel.

Forbidden Fruit – (Genesis 3:3).

Make my bed in hell (Psalm 139:8; Acts 13:22). I love this entire Psalm. Though we make our bed in hell, there He is with us. We use it as a descriptor for a wrecked life.

Scapegoat – (Leviticus 16:10)

Like a Lamb led to the slaughter – (Jeremiah 11:19; Isaiah 53:7). Jesus was that Lamb of God who willingly laid down His life for us (John 10:17-18).

I escaped by the skin of my teeth – (Job 19:19-20).

I’m not my brother’s keeper – (Genesis 4:9)

Go the Extra Mile – (Matthew 5:41).

Turn the other cheek – (Matthew 5:39).

Grandmas often love to feed their grandchildren by first saying, ‘Oh my, you are nothing but skin and bones (Job 19:19-20).

Stay on the straight and Narrow – (Matthew 7:14). The Gate that we enter by, the Door, is Jesus Christ, the only way to be saved (John 14:6).

Rise and Shine – Grandparents and parents alike, seem to cheerily use, “Rise and Shine” to wake up a sleepy child in the morning. But this is a Messianic passage seen in Isaiah 60:1, relating to the Second coming and the Millennial Kingdom

Old as Methuselah – (Genesis 5:25-27). My parents and grandparents also used to refer to someone as being as old as Methuselah.

Eat, drink, and be merry (for tomorrow we die). Most likely adapted from (Ecclesiastes 8:15, but Isaiah 22:13) uses the (for tomorrow we die), as well as the parable seen in Luke 12:16-21, the rich man storing up goods not knowing his life would be required that night

You’re on sinking sand – (Matthew 7:26-27)

Joy comes in the Morning – (Psalm 30:5)

Don’t hide your light – (Matthew 5:14-16; Mark 4:21-22; Luke 8:16, 11:33)

No Man can serve two masters – (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13).

Thanks for reading. If you don’t know Jesus or are unsure of where you might go when you die, please watch this simple video.

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